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Bhutan

Trekking the Trans Bhutan Trail

Trek the Last Buddhist Kingdom

Duration

10 Days

From

USD 4,750

Ride Rating

Moderate

Group Size

4 - 10

Trip Description

  • This fully supported trek takes place over 10 days and 9 nights, covering 40 miles/ 64km of the route, and staying mostly in hotels, with the occasional camp or lodge. 
     

  • The 249 mile/ 402 km trail connects Haa in the west to Tashigang in the east, the trail network
    spans the breadth of the country across 9 districts, 28 local administrations, 2 municipalities, one
    national park, and over 400 historic and cultural sites.

     

  • The trail is perfect for trekkers, historians, nature lovers, adventurers, photographers and birdwatchers to enjoy this amazing Himalayan experience. Immersed in the unique culture and tradition of the last Himalayan kingdom, hiking along remote mountain trails in pristine environments.
     

  • After 6 active days on the trail, we undertake the final challenge, the iconic trek to the Tiger's Nest, a monastery built into the side of a sheer cliff face, and an essential pilgrimage for all Bhutanese to undertake at least once in their lives.

Ride Overview

Average Daily Distance: 6.53 mil/ 10.5 km​

Average Daily Climb: +2,103 ft / +641m​

  • This trek is rated moderate. In total, we cover approximately 40 mi / 64 km over 6 active days.
    Being a Himalayan Kingdom, the treks will climb to passes and descend into valleys, meaning
    that you will clock up a reasonable elevation gain across the Trek.

  • Throughout the trip, we will have trekking guides on hand, and vehicle support nearby. Having local guides throughout, and daily briefings, we will always know what is coming.
     

  • The adventure begins straight away, as your team meet you at Paro airport and drive via
    Bhutan's highest motorable road to the Valley of Haa, starting point for the Trans Bhutan Trail.
     

  • The first trek is a shakeout walk, designed to acclimate and ease you into the journey ahead. Our trekking begins in earnest on Day 3, crossing from the Haa Valley to Paro Valley, then over 6 hiking days traverse a major section of the route until Punakha.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival day - Paro to Haa, Welcome to Bhutan

The flight into Bhutan offers scenic views of the Himalayas. Mount Jumolhari at 7,314m in Bhutan is visible just before the approach to Paro airport. The Paro valley is located at an altitude of 2,280m above sea level and serves as one of the most fertile areas in Bhutan, growing a variety of rice, apples, potatoes and vegetables. Our guide will receive you at the airport with a traditional welcome, after which we drive for an hour and half to the adjoining Haa valley. The drive begins with an ascent to the Chelela pass, located at an elevation of 3,900m making it the highest motorable road in Bhutan.

The Chelai la region is a pristine area known for luxuriant forests, high altitude walking trails, panoramic mountain views, birds and wildlife. We will be making plenty of stops along the way for refreshments, stretching out, sightseeing or simply to enjoy the pure mountain air. The descent from the pass takes us across yak pastures and scenic vistas to the Haa Valley where fields of millet, barely, potatoes and wheat cover the valley floor, depending on the season. Haa was only opened to tourists in 2002 and remains a seldom visited destination retaining a peaceful charm, un-spoilt and idyllic countryside. The unique characteristics of traditional architecture is reflected in the large farmhouses beautifully adorned with intricately painted cornices, frames and three-tiered windows.

Meals: Dinner, Happy Hour

Accommodation: Risum Resort, www.risumresort.com

Day 2: The Haa Valley (acclimatization/ shakeout walk)

We begin the day with blessings at a local temple for the walking adventures ahead. We then set off on an acclimatization hike/ shake-out walk on the “Haa Panorama Hiking Trail” which was recently developed during the global pandemic (by laid off tourism workers) to showcase the pristine beauty and the intact environment of the bucolic Haa Valley during the post pandemic times. This easy to moderate grade route begins from Yangthang Monastery (2990m) and provides panoramic views of Haa valley, the sacred Meri Puensum and distant peaks, whilst immersing in the pristine pine forests. The scenic trail gently ascends to 3150m and passes through pine forests, pastures, intact environment and traverses the monasteries of Yanthang (2,990m), Katsho (3,030m) and Juneydrak (2,950m) gompa before descending into Wangtsa village (2,700m). This enchanting trail covers a distance of 11 kilometers and takes about 4 to 5 hours to complete, at a very leisurely pace. We will partake in a picnic lunch at a beautiful setting before the walk back to the hotel, at the end of the trail. Depending on the availability of time there will also be options to explore the Haa market, the
houses here exemplify traditional architecture.

Trek : Up to 6.8 miles (11 km), 4 to 5 hours

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Risum Resort, www.risumresort.com

Day 3: Trans Bhutan Trailhead & Kaley La Pass

- Haa Valley (2,801m / 9,190ft ) to Paro Valley (2,380m / 7,809ft )

We begin the day with a short drive to the trailhead of the Trans Bhutan Trail. The trailhead offers a good view of Juneydra temple, which is also regarded as the second Tigers Nest Monastery. The trail then ascends through pine forests and a few open meadows until Kaley la Pass. For generations, the people of Haa journeyed across this trail to barter with the people of adjoining Paro valley. From Kaley la pass the vantage offers scenic views of Jomolhari (7314m), Jichu Drakey (6989m), Tsherimgang (6789m), Gungkarpo sky burial site and panoramic views of Haa and Paro valleys. After Kaley la the trail descends all the way until Ngoba village in the western fringes of the Paro valley.

Maximum Elevation : 12,435 ft (3,790m)

Trek : 8.8 miles (14.3 km), 4 to 5 hours, +2,936ft/ -4,084ft (+895m / -1,245m)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Tenzinling Resort, www.tenzinlinghotels.com

Day 4: The Paro Valley

- Lamgong (2,380m / 7,809ft) to Dopshari (2,826m / 9,272ft)

After breakfast this morning, we link up with the Trans Bhutan Trail heading east. The trail rises gently from Lamgong village as it traverses the sprawling rice paddies before carving around the northern eastern ridge and gradually descends into the rice farming village of Dopshari. This section presents wonderful views of the Paro valley. After lunch, we visit Ta Dzong, the former watchtower which now houses the National Museum.

Maximum Elevation: 9,272ft (2,826m)

Trek: 4.07 miles (6.56 km), 2 hours, +885ft/ -69ft (+270m / -21m)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Tenzinling Resort, www.tenzinlinghotels.com

Day 5: Buddha Point, pinnacle of the Trans Bhutan Trail

- Dopshari (2,826m / 9,272ft) to Thimpu (2,659m / 8,724ft)
We drive to Thimphu this morning and spend the day taking in the sights in the capital city. The
attractions include the textile academy and museum, Kaja Throm farmers Market and the school
of arts and crafts.

The highlight of today is Buddha Point, home to Thimphus most visible landmark, the Buddha
Dordenma. At 51 meters (167 feet) the gilded bronze statue guards the capital and sits atop a
three-storey base housing a chapel and thousands of donated statuettes.
Later in the evening there will be time to take a stroll in the town and experience the pleasant
calm of Bhutanese life.

Maximum Elevation: 12,844 ft (3,915m)

Ride: 1-2  hours

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Thimphu Tower, www.thimphutowers.com

Day 6: The Divine Madman Trail

- Thinleygang (1,560m/ 5,118 ft) to Punakha (1,225m / 4,019 ft)
After breakfast we transfer up to Dochula Pass. The Pass offers one of the most spectacular sunrises anywhere in Bhutan and so we recommend rising early this morning. From Thinleygang Lhakhang (Temple) we join a section of the Trail known as the ‘Divine Madman Trail’ walking down towards Toeb Chandhana. We will be following in the footsteps of the Divine Madman himself, Drukpa Kuenley, when he came to Bhutan from Tibet in the 16th century to fulfill his destiny of suppressing evil energies. On arrival, we visit the Toeb Chandana Lhakhang, also known as the Chandana Lhakhang, meaning ‘where the arrow landed’. Legend has it that when Drukpa Kuenley fired an arrow from Tibet to determine his course, it landed here in Toeb Chandana. The temple itself was built in the 15th century to ward off the evil energy of a demoness and then served as the religious seat of Ngawang Chogyal.
Next door is the house of Toeb Tshewang, which Drukpa Kuenley’s arrow is said to have struck when it landed. Legend has it that, dressed as a beggar, the divine madman courted Tshewang’s wife and that, in a fit of jealous rage, Tshewang drew a sword which Drukpa Kuenley miraculously knotted.  The building still houses the eleven-stepped wooden ladder that Kuenley’s arrow is said to have struck; and the descendants of Tshewang have preserved the house as a monument for fifteen generations. In recent years, the central monastic body uses this route to reach its winter residence in Punakha and to return to Thimphu in the summer. At Sew Drangsa, we will find a clearing marked with prayer flags, this is where the monks stop en route to Punakha, as we will do today. From here, the trail descends towards Punakha Dzong (fortress), offering spectacular views of the Punakha Valley on the way.
In the afternoon, there will be time for visiting the “Castle of Great Happiness” and some
sightseeing around the charming town of Punakha.

Maximum Elevation: 10,414 ft (3,174m)

Trek: 9.1 miles (14.5 km), 4 to 5 hours, +777ft/ -1,801ft (+237m / -549m)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Zhingkham Resort, www.bhutanhotels.com.bt/zhingkham-resort

Day 7: Sub Tropical Punakha

- Punakha (1,225m/4,019ft) to Lingmukha (2,144m/7,034ft)
The trail begins from Punakha Dzong parking passing over the beautiful cantilever bridge spanning the Mo Chhu River and then follows a paved road along the Dzong for about 500m until a parking area before the suspension bridge. Enjoy the walk over the longest suspension bridge which spans over the Pho chu river and winds past farmhouses to reach the road point. After walking along the paved road for about 1.5km, the trail ascends sharply toward Lingmukha through the forest chirpine offering scenic views of Punakha town and Mendagang village until a chorten often known to the locals as Laptskha (mountain pass). Then for the last part of the section, the trail runs along the farm road for about 2.8km until the Lingmukha valley.

Maximum Elevation: 7,043 ft (2,147m)

Trek: 7 miles (11.28 km), 4 to 5 hours, +3,110ft/ -265ft (+948m/ -81m)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Zhingkham Resort, www.bhutanhotels.com.bt/zhingkham-resort

Day 8: Punakha to Paro

We retrace the drive to Paro and enjoy the sights in Paro. We will also indulge in a refreshing traditional hot stone bath to soothe the mind and body. In the evening we enjoy a traditional feast at a farm house in the valley

Trek: -

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Olathang, www.bhutanhotels.com.bt/hotel-olathang

Day 9: The Tiger's Nest

Today we will be hiking to the iconic Tiger's nest monastery. This is the most prominent cultural landmark and synonymous with the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. The Tiger's Nest Monastery, Taktsang (2950m) is among one of the most popular spiritual heritage sites in the Buddhist world due to its spiritual significance. The monastery is precariously perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor and defies gravity and human imagination. The patron saint of the country arrived at this spot on a back of tigress and meditated here in a cave and hence it is called “Tigers Nest”. This site has been recognized as a spiritual power spot and many eminent saints have meditated in this area. Most Bhutanese make it a point to visit this place at least once in their life time due to its spiritual sanctity. We will enjoy lunch at the cafeteria which offers an imposing view of the cultural landmark before we head back to the car parking, a short downhill walk from the café.
Tonight we will celebrate our achievement with a final farewell dinner and happy hour in a local spot perfect for sharing stories and memories.

Trek: 4 Miles (6.4km), 5 hrs, +2,460 ft / -2,460ft

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Happy Hour

Accommodation: Hotel Olathang, www.bhutanhotels.com.bt/hotel-olathang

Day 10: Farewell Bhutan - Departure day

We check in two hours prior to flight departure to ensure the best seats on board, best suited to
take in the panoramic view of the Himalayas.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: -

Preparation

Equipment

An email with packing suggestions will be sent prior to departure.

Flight Ticketing

We can assist with flight ticketing services. The airfares we provide are the best possible airfares
directly from the airline, we do not impose any service charges for flight ticketing to
guests/groups/associates traveling with us in Bhutan.

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Inclusions

What's Included
  • Bhutan Visa & tourism fund contribution

  • Arrival and departure drop off.

  •  9 nights accommodation with 9 breakfasts, 10 lunches/ picnics, 10 dinners, 2 happy
    hours.

  • Guiding and support services, vehicle transfers.

  • Snacks & drinks whilst riding.

  • Monument /museum entrance fees

  • Traditional Hot Stone Bath treatment/experience in Paro

  • All sightseeing and programs as indicated in the itinerary

  • Route permits, national park permits and monument permits

What's Not Included
  • International and domestic airfares.

  • Equipment rental.

  • Single room supplement *

  • Guide team gratuities

  • Travel insurance

* Single rooms are available on request at a surcharge of 790USD per room.

See our FAQ for more information about our cancellation policy and answers to common questions.

Essential Info

Visa and Entry Conditions

We will arrange the Bhutan visa for you, and the cost is included in the tour fee, you will need to provide the following documents

  • Vaccination certificate - double vax

  • Travel Insurance proof (showing your names, and a date range which covers the trip)

  • Passport scan

  • Passport photo scan

Consult the Bhutanese Embassy website for the latest entry requirements.

Health and Vaccines

Prior to the covid19 outbreak, immunization advice for Bhutan was relatively standard. Hep A & B, Tetanus, and Typhoid, as well as seasonal Flu Jabs are recommended. For at risk parties, Cholera and Japanese encephalitis jabs should be considered. Due to stray dog populations, rabies shots are worth considering. Post covid, it is recommended to carry a vaccination certificate.

Weather

May is the perfect time for this trek, as it happens to be the middle of the spring season. Temperatures will be a max of 21C/70F during the day and 12C/55F in the very early mornings. Days will be nice and warm and early mornings nice and cool, ideal weather for hiking/walking and outdoor activities. The best weather in Spring is usually in May. The month of May is good for greenery, and flowers with Rhododendron and other native species in bloom. It is also a good time to view the many migratory bird species along the trail, you could even expect sightings of some rare species.

Money and Expenses

The local currency in Bhutan is the Ngultrum. It's a good idea to have some cash on you for incidentals, either in USD or better yet some local currency (BTN). ATMs, are not common in Bhutan, and hotel money changers rates can fluctuate especially in remote areas. Most ATMs will accept foreign cards. Having some US dollars in cash will enable you to change some money if needed.